Memories of Maine

The other day my oldest daughter and I started to reminisce about Maine. We were stationed there in the early 80’s. Our oldest was five months old when we reported to our duty station in Winter Harbor. We left Maine when she was three.

Since that time, we have gone back just a few times. The last time we visited, our oldest was going into sixth grade. I was surprised at how many sights she remembered from Maine. I smiled to myself to hear her talk about Downeast Maine.

I mentioned a few more sights and with each mention, she got a bit more excited. After talking with her, I have not stopped thinking about our time there. It was a special place to live. The Navy community was small, and close knit. Friendships were formed that still last to this day. I often say I left a big part of my heart there.

This morning I woke up early. Usually when I awake that early I fall back to sleep easily. This morning was not so. I turned over and my eyes popped open and my brain was racing with clarity. In my mind, I walked through the little town where we lived. I could picture things that I am sure are no longer there. The Donut Hole, a building that looked like a fishing shack that overlooked the water. On the wall hung many mugs belonging to the regulars. There was always some group of fishermen, lobstermen, or locals sitting around tables, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Across the street was a grocery store, where you were greeted warmly whenever you went in.

I often walked into town with our daughter. We would visit the Five and Dime store and I would glance across the street to the drug store that had a soda counter in it. The town still calls to me. My heart still yearns to be back there.

The Navy has long since left the area. The housing for military personnel are now privately owned or rented out to tourists.

I can still hear the waves crashing onto the rocks and the shore. Having been a Navy family, we were always around a body of water, but the coast of Maine remains the most beautiful coast to me. The water is grey. The air is brisk. It churns with energy unlike the lapping water of many of the coasts I have been around. I can still feel the smell of the water, it filled your senses and made me feel alive. In winter it was especially angry, always turbulent, like it was trying not to freeze over in the frigid temperature. I love the coast of Downeast Maine.

Yes, a large piece of my heart is in Maine, as it became a part of me. The experience of living there, meeting the people there is woven into me. It has been forty years since we left, yet I can return there rapidly in my mind.

It’s easy to yearn for places you have been. To recall the sights, the sounds, the smells and long to return. It’s a known place to you.

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” John 14:2-4 (NKJV)

Jesus promised us a place with Him. The Master Carpenter is preparing a mansion for us. He is coming back for us.

Although I have never been there, have never lived there, there is a place deep within me that yearns for Heaven a little more than I yearn for Winter Harbor. My heart lies in Heaven, and it waits to be there with my Lord.

Grateful

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched — they must be felt with the heart.” — Helen Keller

We lived in San Diego for twenty eight years. I have a circle of dear friends there that make my world bright and safe. I made most of those friends in my late twenties and thirties. They came into my life and took root in my heart. They have challenged me and honestly, they are responsible for the person I grew into. They are my heart.

I also have a group of friends that are my military friends. Although all of us are now way past that time of life, having been out of the Navy longer then we were in. This group was family when families were not close for any of us. We all shared experiences that were unique to each duty station we were assigned. We recognized the need to establish friendships and become family. Otherwise we would have been alone and in need of companionship and support. These friends wrote letters, no internet in those days. These friends prayed for each other, and longed for hugs in situations where we knew they would recognize.

In 2009 Dale and I moved to South Carolina. We drove across the country with a trailer and our dog and each other. Excited for a new adventure, we knew this was most likely our last great adventure. The closer we drove to Charleston the more I fretted about making friends. I was in my late 50’s and I didn’t know if I remembered how to make friends.

I once wrote about the girl scout song, ‘make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.’ I mentioned that the friends from the military and San Diego fell into the gold section. I also realized that the friends I made in Charleston would one day fall into gold status, which they are now firmly fastened.

Seven years ago we moved to the upstate of South Carolina. Once more I wondered if I would have any friends. I should have learned my lesson by this time. Daily I am grateful for friends. I now realize that I no longer have friends in the silver category. Friends are a precious gift from God. A person who will talk with you, share with you, pray with you and be still beside you is such a blessing from our Creator. Friends are golden. Their worth is more precious than gold.

Thank you to my friends. You make my life complete and whole. You give me laughter in times of tears, you encourage me to move when I am sitting in the dirt, stuck in mud. You kick my behind when I am being stupid. You reflect Jesus to me in love, grace and exhortation. I am grateful.